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03/03/2011

Archbishop demands acceptance of his marital lifestyle choices; unclear if we must also eat fish this Friday

by Jeremy Hooper

Ready for this one? Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is out with his statement in regards to DOMA. Because I know you all were waiting, right?

Oh, and get this: He, someone who's trying with every fiber in his priest frock to use personal faith views on marriage and family in order to shape the public policy of this church/state-separated nation, is actually accusing the Obama administration (and by logical extension gay rights advocates) of posing a threat "to religious liberty and the integrity of our democracy." Literally -- he says just that:

"The announcement on February 23 that the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an alarming and grave injustice. Marriage, the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, is a singular and irreplaceable institution. Only a man and a woman are capable of the “two-in-one-flesh” union of husband and wife. Only a man and a woman have the ability to bring children into the world. Along with that ability comes responsibility, which society historically reinforces with laws that bind mothers and fathers to each other and their children. This family unit Archbishopdolanphotorepresents the most basic and vital cell of any society, protecting the right of children to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their mother and father. Thus, marriage represents the bedrock of the common good of society, its very foundation and future.

Contrary to the Attorney General’s statement, DOMA does not single out people based on sexual “orientation” or inclination. Every person deserves to be treated with justice, compassion, and respect, a proposition of natural law and American law that we as Catholics vigorously promote. Unjust discrimination against any person is always wrong. But DOMA is not “unjust discrimination”; rather, it merely affirms and protects the time-tested and unalterable meaning of marriage. The suggestion that this definition amounts to “discrimination” is grossly false and represents an affront to millions of citizens in this country.

The decision also does not stand the test of common sense. It is hardly “discrimination” to say that a husband and a wife have a unique and singular relationship that two persons of the same sex—or any unmarried persons—simply do not and cannot have. Nor is it “discrimination” to believe that the union of husband and wife has a distinctive and exclusive significance worthy of promotion and protection by the state. It is not “discrimination” to say that having both a mother and a father matters to and benefits a child. Nor is it “discrimination” to say that the state has more than zero interest in ensuring that children will be intimately connected with and raised by their mother and father.

Protecting the definition of marriage is not merely permissible, but actually necessary as a matter of justice. Having laws that affirm the vital importance of mothers and fathers—laws that reinforce, rather than undermine, the ideal that children should be raised by their own mother and father—is essential for any just society. Those laws serve not only the good of the spouses and their children, but the common good. Those laws are now under relentless attack. If we forget the meaning of marriage, we forget what it means to be a human person, what it means to be a man or a woman. Have we wandered away so far in our society as to forget why men and women matter, and eroded the most central institution for our children and for our future?

The Administration’s current position is not only a grave threat to marriage, but to religious liberty and the integrity of our democracy as well. Our nation and government have the duty to recognize and protect marriage, not tamper with and redefine it, nor to caricature the deeply held beliefs of so many citizens as “discrimination.” On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I express my deep disappointment over the Administration’s recent decision. I have written of these concerns to the President in separate correspondence, and I pray that he and the Department of Justice may yet make the right choice to carry out their constitutional responsibility, defending the irreplaceable institution of marriage, and in so doing protect the future generations of our children."
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

I literally live about five blocks from the Archbishop's NYC office. Walk by it all the time with my husband. Get pastries from the nearby bakery. Tell out-of-towners about the famous Manhattan river scene that was filmed a few blocks over. Dutifully clean up the dog poop, should our cherished shih tzu drop a deuce at the building's cornerstone. But never once have I or my husband looked to that gigantic edifice and sought anything. Not a smile. Not a drop of water. Not an emergency pee pee facility. Certainly not a blessing of our marriage. And most definitely not a forced handing-over of any aspect of the panoply of rights afforded to any of its inhabitants. We live, we let live. This even with full knowledge of what is being churned out against our marriage just a few floors above.

I only want the same respect from my New York neighbor. Stay out of my home unless invited. Stay out of my spiritual life unless I sign up for your particular church. Stay out of my civil rights unless -- well, nothing.

And I truly believe lay Catholics share my view. The vast majority, at least.

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